Random Thoughts On Pocono

Posted in IndyCar on August 22, 2016 by Oilpressure

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There is really no way to know how this race looked on television, but it was spectacular in person. Like all five hundred mile races, there was that lull around the halfway point – but what a finish!

As is usually the case with a Will Power drive, he quietly hung around and suddenly about three-quarters of the race through, you suddenly realize he is in the lead. That’s exactly what happened at this race. He had started eighth and had been somewhat invisible throughout most of the day. By now, we should all know that it is a mistake to ever overlook Will Power. He took the lead on Lap 151 and led all but a handful of laps for the rest of the day on his way to his fourth victory of the season.

With about fifteen laps to go, pole-sitter Mikhail Aleshin made it interesting. He passed Josef Newgarden for second and was catching Power. At one point, Aleshin was only .22 seconds behind Power. But Power held him off and won by over a second.

TV Coverage:  Obviously I did not see any of the coverage since I was here. I’m just hoping that I was able to reset my DVR from the app on my phone. As of this morning, Xfinity had not updated the programming taking the rescheduled race into account. The time change here on my phone put all the programming to Eastern time. Who knows what I got? Here’s hoping I was able to get the race and not a review of the Olympics.

Scary moment:  If you watched the race, you know there was a very scary moment in the pits on Lap 64. The cars of Alexander Rossi and Charlie Kimball collided in the pits. Rossi’s car was launched and it came down on top of the cockpit of Helio Castroneves. Fortunately, it appears no one was injured in the frightening looking incident. The day was done for Rossi and Helio, but Kimball was able to continue on his way to a fifteenth place finish.

Points lead shaved:  Of course, the big story is that points leader Simon Pagenaud crashed into the outside wall of Turn One on Lap 158. Pagenaud was uninjured in the crash, but you can’t say the same for his points lead. What seemed like an insurmountable advantage has dwindled down to a mere twenty points over his surging teammate Will Power, with three more aces to go – one of them being a double-points race.

I’ve been saying this since June, but Will Power is going to win this championship. He has been charging hard ever since he won the second race at Belle Isle in early June. His stock is rising, while Pagenaud’s has been holding steady at best. His poor finishes up until today have all been blamed on engine problems and what not. As a driver, Pagenaud had not made a single mistake – until today. From what I can tell, this one was all on him and he’s paying the price in the points.

Power’s charge is even more remarkable considering he did not start the first race of the season in St. Petersburg. Had he at least started that race, he would have eight more points to his total and would trail Pagenaud by only twelve points. I’m wondering if those eight pints will figure into the championship when it is all over.

Monday Magic:  I was actually happy that the rains came as early as they did yesterday. I was afraid that IndyCar officials would try to move Sunday’s start time up an hour and would aim to get a 252.5 mile race in and be done with it. Although the attendance suffered as well as the TV ratings, we knew the weather was going to be perfect today and it was – except it was very breezy. The drivers put on a great show for whatever eyes were here or watching on TV.

Will Power was also happy. After the race, he pointed out to everyone that over the past six years, he had won every race that had been pushed back to a Monday – Brazil, St. Petersburg and now Pocono. I haven’t looked it up and no one challenged him on it, so I’ll take his word for it.

Drive of the Day: After the Pagenaud crash on Lap 158, Ryan Hunter-Reay was at or running near the front when his engine suddenly cut out on him. He fell back, came into the pits and lost a lap. I figured his day was done and he would be settling for a finish around thirteenth or so. Like a man possessed, he charged to the front to finish third – easily the drive of the day. He acknowledged after the race that he didn’t have the speed to catch Aleshin or Power, but it was impressive to see him on the podium after such a late race setback.

Keeping it out of the fence:  Pippa Mann struggled with her car the entire weekend. I spoke to her on the grid just before the race and she was not happy with the way her car was handling. Pocono is her best track and she got her best career finish here last year (thirteenth).

Pippa was bringing up the rear most of the day and it would be easy to assume she was the problem when you look at her seventeenth place finish today and see that she was three laps down. But I will point out that her Dale Coyne Racing teammate Conor Daly finished just ahead of her in sixteenth and many were predicting a strong day for Daly. I would still like to see what Pippa (and Conor) could do in a car that was consistently fast, week in and week out.

Quite honestly, I think both drivers should be commended for not wadding up their respective cars that were apparently such handfuls.

Getting closer:  While Mikhail Aleshin did not win the race in which he won his first pole, I think he has earned a lot more respect within the paddock and from fans alike with the way he has driven in the second half of the season. After a botched pit stop ruined his shot at a win at Mid-Ohio, he responded with a pole and a second place finish in the very next race.

I never thought I would say this at the start of the season, but I don’t think Aleshin’s first win is far off – possibly even coming this season at one of the next three races. He has certainly gotten my attention. That and four dollars will buy you a cup of coffee at Starbucks.

All in all:  The ABC Supply 500 was an exciting race to attend. The skies were sunny, the temperature was pleasant and the racing was exciting. I did not witness the frightening incident in the pits, but I saw the replays. But watching Will Power check out on the field when it mattered, was like watching a masterpiece in the making.

The tightened points race will make Saturday night’s continuation of the Texas race even more intriguing. For those that thought that things were boring with Pagenaud apparently running away with the championship – things just got a lot more interesting.

Reminder:  By the time Paul and I leave the track, it’ll be close to 6:00. We’ll be getting on the road and we’ve targeted Akron to spend the night. Then we’ll make Indianapolis by lunchtime on Tuesday and I’ll make Nashville by late Tuesday afternoon. With that travel schedule, I’ll have no time (or energy) to write anything for Wednesday. Therefore, there will be no post here on Wed Aug 24, but I’ll return on Fri Aug 26.

Photos:  Here are a few photos I took today that really require no captioning. Thanks to everyone that followed this site throughout the extended race weekend. Lastly, as much fun as this race weekend was, it would have been even more fun with my better half Susan. She was missed.

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Again, thanks for following along this weekend and all of the race weekends we attended this season.

George Phillips

Pocono Race Day – Part Two

Posted in IndyCar on August 22, 2016 by Oilpressure

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For the third day in a row – welcome to Pocono Raceway. The skies are blue with puffy clouds. It is a brisk 64-degrees, but it is very windy. Winds are supposed to be 15-knots out of the north, with gusts up to 25-knots – not ideal conditions for cars going 220 mph.

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The media center is about two-thirds empty, and so is the parking lot. I’d like to say there is a buzz less than two hours before the green flag, but there isn’t. Everyone seems disgruntled to be here an extra day and appear to get this thing done and get t over with. Maybe if I went t every race, I might feel the same way. As it is though, I think Paul and I are some of the few that are happy to be here today.

I’d much rather be here today for a full five-hundred mile race than a partial race yesterday or a split race between yesterday and today.

It’s a shame that all three of Pocono’s major races, the two NASCAR races and the Verizon IndyCar Series race, have been pushed back to Monday this year. Unfortunately, I don’t expect many people at all to be sitting in the stands. There may be more people associated with the teams or series here today, than actual spectators. I’m hoping I’m wrong, but I don’t think it’ll be that far off.

After the race, I will post my usual Monday “Random Thoughts” article. But due to travel tonight and tomorrow, I will not have a post on Wednesday. After the post late this afternoon, I will not have anything up here until Friday morning.

In the meantime, please follow me on Twitter at @Oilpressure.com for photos and updates. But please check back here after the race.

George Phillips

No Racing Today At Pocono

Posted in IndyCar on August 21, 2016 by Oilpressure

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By now you’ve probably heard that the ABC Supply 500 has been postponed until Monday at noon and will be shown live on NBCSN. Trust me, it wasn’t a tough decision to make. It started spitting rain around noon and it set in for good around 1:30. So an earlier starting time would not have made any difference.

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It’s Race Day At Pocono

Posted in IndyCar on August 21, 2016 by Oilpressure

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Good morning from a breezy and partly cloudy Pocono Raceway. While the skies look OK now, the weather is approaching quickly. It now likely that we will be here tomorrow to either run or at least finish the ABC Supply 500. I know the Olympics take precedence, but this is what happens when you start a five-hundred mile race at 3:00 on a track with no lights. Oh well, everyone here seems resigned that we will be here an extra day. There are worse things that can happen than being “forced” to spend an extra day at a race track.

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Pocono Qualifying Wrap-Up

Posted in IndyCar on August 20, 2016 by Oilpressure

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The field is now set for the 2016 ABC Supply 500. Mikhail Aleshin won his first career pole with a two-lap average speed of 220.445 mph. That completes a strong run for Honda, who put five cars into the Top-Seven spots on the grid. Josef Newgarden put his Chevy powered car from Ed Carpenter Racing on the outside of the front row and Helio Castroneves will start fourth as the only other Chevy driver in the Top-Five.

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Pocono – Practice One Update

Posted in IndyCar on August 20, 2016 by Oilpressure

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Practice One is in the books at Pocono Raceway. First the bad…There were three incidents which brought out yellow flags. Early on, Ryan Hunter-Reay had the rear-end of his car whip around on him and he had a hard hit into the outside wall of Turn One. His car hinted at going all the way over before coming to a stop against the inside retaining wall. He was uninjured, but the same cannot be said for his DHL machine. He will be forced to go to his backup car for the remainder of the weekend.

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Welcome To Pocono Raceway

Posted in IndyCar on August 20, 2016 by Oilpressure

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Good morning from Pocono Raceway. This is my first visit to the Tricky Triangle and so far, it lives up to expectations. The scenery here is gorgeous. Once we entered western Pennsylvania, the scenery became prettier each mile we drove. By the time we hit the Poconos, it looked like something off of a post card (remember those?).

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